Real or Artificial Elephant Hair?

In the attached picture one of these bracelets is at least 60 years old (maybe even 100) and the other one is about 60 minutes old! It is such a joy to make something like they did so long ago in the bush. In fact it was fun to restore the very old, very real elephant hair bracelet, if for no other reason than to see how the magic knots of Africa were tied back then.

A real and an artificial elephant hair bracelet with gold knots

Clearly the knots on both are new. I did them on the same day after a European client asked me if I could restore the bracelet his father gave him 45 years ago in Mombasa, Kenya. It was great to see the old design and also now you see why my designs are so similar to those traditionally worn in East Africa. This contrasts strongly with the big chunky ones I have been asked to repair in the past. They are usually much newer and more fragile and hastily made to appease a tourist or hunter. I hear people say “Oh, I bought it on the streets of Cape Town or Johannesburg, so it must be legal.”

Wow, how naive can you be? Commercial trade in elephant products is illegal in most parts of the world nowadays, with a few exceptions if you have the right Cites permits. So that elephant tail hair from a street side vendor is probably from a poached elephant – a market no one should support. But I think it is OK for me to rework the knots on very old ones like I did here.

If you like the look and feel of an elephant hair bracelet, and don’t want a silver, gold or copper one from my collection, then look into artificial hair models. Only you will know the difference when wearing one in public and no elephants will be harmed in the process. You can even order them as combo models with silver and artificial hair models, or gold/hair or even (as two of my clients suggested) gold/silver/black tricolor models.

PS If you look in a big dictionary you will see they define artificial as a synthetic material that has been reworked by hand to make it look even more realistic.

How big is an African elephant?

Elephant knot bracelets are for ladies and men

I have fond memories of going to the circus as a teenager. Back in the days when they had lots of animal acts and really did set up the Big Top in a neighborhood park. In particular, I remember the finale parade at the end while the band played one last rousing number, and an elephant with a pretty girl riding it. She smiled directly at me.

Not only was that the first pretty girl that smiled at me, but also I realized she was riding on his neck without a saddle. Now, of course, today it is obvious to me it was an Indian elephant. Yes, even in South Africa they had Indian elephants in the circus.

Big elephants are celebrated with big elephant hair knot bracelets and bangles

It wasn’t until many years later when I went on a proper safari to Botswana that I got to see my first African elephant. And boy was he big. I say “he” because he was alone whereas a female elephant would have been with the herd. Not sure what happened to my own photograph but this one here depicts almost the perfect scene we experienced. It seemed like our Land Rover had shrunk. I even remember thinking the big bull elephant could have probably stepped right over us, roof rack included, if he was of a mind to do so.

Needless to say we were very quiet and moved slowly. I think we were all holding our breath as we enjoyed this example of the largest species that roams Africa, all the while praying he kept on trying to find his 350lb daily fill of vegetation rather than showing any aggression towards our two vehicles.

How big do you want your elephant hair knot bracelet?

Nowadays I make elephant hair knot bracelets in a variety of different sizes specifically for my customers. They all have the magic sliding knots based on the designs of the original real elephant hair ones made by the herdsmen in the bushes so they have plenty of room to move. But there is a big difference between the wrist of a thin lady or a teenager with a tiny wrist of 6″ (15cm) or so, and a big man with a 9″ (22.8cm) wrist say. So I make them in Small (for the slender folks), Large (typically for big men or very big women’s wrists) and Medium for everyone else.

Better still, if you pick your nearest size but then measure your own wrist circumference, at the point on your arm where you will wear it, and include this number with your order, then I will make you a custom one specifically to that size. Do realize that four knot models are very hard to make in small sizes, as the knots run into each other when it is in the closed position on your arm, so a two or three knot version might work better in such a case.

P.S. Large often only goes up to 8″ (20.3cm) wrists, so please specify if you need one even bigger.

Under the old Baobab tree

Actually I am sitting making elephant hair knot bracelets under some Oak, Wattle and Manzanita trees but the idea is the same – not that a Baobab tree gives you much shade. Weren’t most such bracelets and other old traditional African jewelry made by some artistic person sitting on the side of the road or village under a thorn tree to get some relief from the scorching sun?

Well we have scorching African style heat here in California and I lost my studio in the Big Oak fire last month near Yosemite. But not before I rescued most of my inventory and big collection of wires and hand tools so now I am sitting outside in the shade making them anyway as orders keep coming in via SafariGold.com and Safarigoldjewelry.etsy.com.

Who needs a fancy modern studio anyway? In the picture above you can see the burned bush just beyond my tool case with a sample artificial elephant hair knot bracelet with 3 gold knots that I have just completed.

Thank you all for your continued support. We will be ready for Xmas in time as well.

Memorable Graduation Gifts

Comparison of silver vs gold knotsA few years ago a polite, elderly lady, who was struggling a bit with her English, called me to order a new bracelet for her son. I loved it when she said, “He is now a full time practicing hot-shot lawyer. And he is still wearing that old silver elephant hair knot bracelet I gave him when he went off to college.”

Muttering mostly to herself, she went on to say, “It just won’t do. He has to look more respectable now.” So I was very happy to help this proud mother select a new gold one for the first lawyer in the family.

Every year about this time we hear from parents like this lovely lady. They are rewarding their recent graduating children with a gift they can wear for a very long time. So much more heartfelt than a gift that just sits on a dusty mantel somewhere.

Elephants are famous for having very long memories so modern elephant hair knot style bracelets are very appropriate for occasions like college graduation – or even for using as send off gifts when you release your teenagers to go off to college and flee the home nest. Plus they are suitable for men or women, big or small, rich or poor, since they come in a variety of sizes, are very adjustable so they can’t accidentally fall off, and can be ordered in copper, artificial elephant hair, silver or gold – or many different combinations thereof.

Solid gold bracelet bangle

Elephant hair bracelet gifts for Mother’s Day & Father’s Day

An elephant never forgets is a well known fact. Which is exactly why an elephant style knot bracelet makes such a remembered gift for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation Day and many other such special occasions. We are happy to offer even more new combinations of sterling 935 silver and gold (yellow or rose) and copper and artificial elephant hair this year, in addition to our standard offerings in many different sizes and weights

Gifts for him bracelets

Each one is a handmade original but will closely approximate the photos on this website. Provide your exact wrist circumference (if known) for an even better fit. All bracelets made with fully rounded wire for maximum strength and comfort. Available in lightweight 3 strand, standard 5 strand, king size 7 strands as well as petite cub 5 strands for more delicate wear.

A full herd of elephant hair bracelets

Image of elephant hair bracelets and bangles

I recently made this ugly display board to show customers at the Safari Show how many different options I now offer of our popular elephant hair knot bracelets. But no one seemed to care or notice. They simply honed in on whichever one caught their fancy and promptly tried it on.

So next time I will make a much more elegant display to show off the quality of the work here and not be so rigid about arranging them by categories which very few people care about. However, if you haven’t been scouring this website, or the internet, this layout shows you that today these bracelets come in petite (SimbCub – more delicate wire) or Simba Lightweight (only 3 strands – silver or gold) or Simba Standard (5 strands – silver or gold) or Simba King (7 strands – silver or gold) or Simbele (5 strands of artificial elephant hair with silver or gold knots).

Gold choices include 20/14KY yellow gold fill or 20/14KY Rose gold fill or even solid yellow 14KY gold. In all cases, the silver is Argentium 935 sterling silver that is tarnish-resistant. And, of course, all the many combinations of these materials – most of which were first asked for by specific customers. If your combo idea is not here (which I doubt) I would be happy to make it for you. And all of them (except very small sizes) in 2, 3 or 4 knot versions.

Not shown here are the copper variations nor the baby sizes and the earrings and pendants to match – all of which have the same magic African slide knots.

Where else can you get such a variety of slide knot bracelets that fit men or women, and now even babies? No clasps to wrestle with nor chances of losing it like a bangle or bracelet that doesn’t fit right. And quality gold fill, which is thousands of times thicker and longer-lasting than gold plating. In fact, it tests as real gold on my gold meter – since the outer 20% is real gold!

All bracelets are made to order and so each is a unique original that will approximate the ones shown in the photos. Pick your closest size and then send me your exact wrist circumference and I will make it specifically for you for an even better fit.

My heart is still in Africa but these are made in California for direct sales throughout the Americas and Europe.

Remember trading in real elephant and giraffe hair products is now illegal worldwide unless you have a Cites permit. Do not buy real hair any other way – we have to stop the poachers.

Silver and Gold, or Gold and Silver?

Just when I was starting to think that there weren’t any more combinations of silver and gold, or metal and artificial elephant, a customer insisted she wanted a 4 knot gold bracelet with silver knots. I had thought of this before but gold people are usually very particular. On the other hand, I was an idiot because one of our most popular products is the 4 knot silver bracelet with gold knots. The gold knots just add a touch of class compared to an all silver model, but I thought the reverse would be true adding silver knots to a gold bracelet.

Gold on silver or silver on gold strands elephant hair knot bracelets.

Not only was I wrong but on further examination, I did offer 2-knots and 3-knots silver with gold strands bracelets that I had forgotten about. Isn’t it fun selling direct and interacting directly with your customers, even though we live 3 time zones apart?

Of course, being a passionate lover of these bracelets, and blaming her mother for the variations (while thanking her husband for letting her spend the money) she wanted earrings to match. So now they also come in both flavors as you can see here:

Did you know the knots really slide on these earrings? They are about 5 cm (1.5″) in diameter. I plan to make some even smaller petite ones to match our SimbaCub line soon.

And like all our bracelets, they are made from fully rounded wire in a traditional East African and Southern African style making them ideal for anyone with a love for African safari adventures. All silver is Argentium tarnish resistant 935 sterling silver and all gold products shown here are 20/14KY gold fill. Rose gold may be substituted for the same price and solid 14KY gold is available for those where only the best will do. See the Simba bracelet section in the Safari Gold shop for specific items.

A herd of elephant hair bracelets

As we head into the Xmas season I am surprised myself by the great variety of elephant hair knot bracelets I am now able to offer. The interesting thing is many of these were requested or thought of by customers or other partners. My brother was the first to show me elephant hair knot bracelets with silver knots. Since I can’t tie the knots with artificial elephant hair, this has turned out to be very convenient. Now we have them in silver and gold and rose gold, with two, three or four knots.

In addition, artificial elephant hair makes a nice contrast to hard metals like silver and gold. So I came up with silver and hair combos, as well as gold and silver combos. Then some lady at Dallas Safari Show said “Why not do a silver, gold and hair version?” And thus the tritone series was born.

No it is not real elephant hair. But real hair is illegal unless you have a Cites permit to trade in hair, and these are exorbitantly expensive unless you had one to hunt your own elephant. Please folks, don’t buy them off a street corner and smuggle them back into Europe or USA. You are just supporting the poachers. Help protect the elephants in the wild – or else wear one and boast to your friends you have poached bracelets.

Of course, we still offer them in many metals styles: Argentium 935 tarnish resistant sterling silver, yellow or rose gold fill, copper an solid yellow gold. In newer fine wire for petite and delicate ladies, regular full rounded gauge wire for men and women in lightweight 3 strands, standard 5 strands or kingsize 7 strands. With 2, 3 or 4 knots.

While all bracelets are highly adjustable, for a better fit specify small, medium or large at order time and I will make it specifically for you. Please send your exact wrist circumference if you can.

Note all our bracelets are made of fully rounded wire, with no lose ends or fly out wires to catch or wear out. We have been called the closest match to those from East Africa – which they should be as I imported hundreds from East Africa and from my brother in South Africa before I couldn’t get them in the real metals and sizes the market demanded and so I learned to make them myself.

Each one is thus a unique hand made original in California but with an African heart.

See them all in our shop of Elephant Hair Knot Bracelets or see them on Etsy at SafariGoldJewelry.

Martin Foden

3, 5, 7 Thin, Standard, Kingsize

The 3 standard widths of elephant hair knot bracelets. Shown here with 4 knots each in sterling 935 silver.

Our standard bracelets are all made of fully rounded wire for smoothness, comfort and durability. The pictures on this page each show a lightweight 3 strand model (where 4 knots can look and feel a little heavy), our standard 5 strand model that is nicely balanced and very popular, and our King/Queen size, extra heavy model with 7 strands and some big chunky knots for those who really want to make a statement.

Notice that when we say 5 strands, for example, we mean 5 strands at the thinnest non-overlapping parts of the bracelet. Other people call these 10 strand models because they count the number of strands in the overlapping parts of the mechanism and especially in 4 knot design, there is overlap most of the way once closed on a wrist.

The examples here all feature models made in Argentium Sterling 935 silver. Argentium silver is tarnish-resistant compared to standard sterling 925 silver. Doesn’t mean they will never tarnish, but only to a lesser extent and over a much longer period of time. Of course, you can easily polish them back to a bright shiny finish.

Comparison of widths on silver bracelets and bangles

Please see Silver Knot Bracelets in the Shop menu for all the options and pricing. While the magic sliding knots of Africa allow for a lot of adjustments on your wrist, for a better fit first select Small (typically teenagers or skinny ladies, under 6.5″ wrist), Large (for big men and very big women, over 7.5″ wrist) and Medium for the rest of you. If you provide an actual wrist message in a note at checkout we will make the bracelet specifically for you since they are all handmade and unique originals.

We have had many comments, and compliments, on how our bracelet design is most similar to those originally from East Africa with the tight knots that don’t have any loose “fly-out” wires to get bent or caught up in daily usage. No wonder since we originally imported many such products from both East and South Africa until we couldn’t properly serve the market in terms of size, quality and genuine quality metal wires, so we came up with our own way of making them after a long period of trial and error. Today they are all made in California but still with an African heart as you can see from the other products on our website.

Want a smaller, petite and very light bracelet for a youngster, even a baby, or for an older lady with very thin wrists and a desire to just have a touch of Africa for special occasions? Then see the SimbaCub line of bracelets which are only in 5 strand models, but made from a much lighter gauge wire. Elegant, classy and petite, but not recommended for everyday wear or heavy usage.

All products mentioned here are also available in the more common 2 knot traditional style, as well as our own unique 3 knot style. Plus they are also available in 20/14KY yellow gold fill, 20/14KR rose gold fill, solid 14KY gold and copper, as well as combinations thereof.

SimbaCub petite new line of elephant hair knot bracelets

Too late for Mother’s Day, but better late than never, we are pleased to finally release a whole new set of bracelets in the popular sliding knots style based on elephant hair bracelets from East and Southern Africa.

New petite line of elephant hair knot bracelets and matching earrings

These are specifically for the ladies who wanted something more petite and refined, even if they are a bit more delicate and not designed for rugged all day wear like the rest of the Simba collection. In fact, we held up this announcement until we had feedback from a good cross section of lady customers.

The initial release includes all silver models, silver with gold knots, silver and gold combo and all gold fill. Prices vary from $60 to $95 so they are not only lighter and smaller, they are also more affordable. For immediate availability please see SafariGold.com or SafariGoldJewelry.etsy.com.

Fine Safari, Zoo & Wildlife Jewelry with an African influence

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